Chicken or Bust

Having arrived in Dawson, of which more later, the decision was two fold.

To go down the Dempster highway and cross the Arctic circle (still not sure what that is, but feel  I really ought to know) or to cross the Yukon River, drive to Alaska and go to Chicken, which is pretty much the first Border Town about 40 miles into Alaska.

On learning that the Dempster was about a fourteen hour round trip on a terrible road, I opted for Chicken, partly because I wanted to go to Alaska  proper but mostly I really wanted to go to Chicken because of the name !

Crossed the Yukon on a perilous river ferry (no, not really) and then embarked on what turned out to be by far the scariest bit of the trip so far (if not my life, yes really).

After a few hours of literally breathtaking scenery along The Top of The World Highway that made me feel I was reliving Voyage of The Dawntreader and reaching the edge of the world, arrived at US customs, got my passport stamped with a picture of a moose and finally was in Alaska proper.

At that point it would have been a good idea to turn around and go back but a) it didn’t occur to me and b) I really had this thing about going to Chicken  – anyway continued to drive on what turned out to be not even gravel, but mostly rock.

As I was approaching Chicken, one of my dashboard lights suddenly came on, and I literally had a sinking feeling in my stomach.

My immediate instinct was to think that it was  a computer malfunction and that the light was just on by mistake and there was actually nothing wrong.

As I stopped in Chicken, it became very clear that there was something wrong as I had a serious rear tyre puncture.

Now that wasn’t quite such  a disaster, because of the intervention of a marvellous bloke called Digger (yes really) who owned  the garage in Chicken and changed the tyre for me.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to repair the punctured one, which meant that I  was faced with the prospect of driving back to Dawson without a spare.

Whilst that may not sound particularly dramatic, believe me it was a seriously scary thing to do.

The road back to Dawson was about two hundred k of pure outback, albeit stunningly beautiful outback – apart from Digger and the US customs guy, there were no other people there .

There were no houses, in fact no buildings, only mountains and this rock of a road, and virtually no traffic – I also had to get back to customs before they closed the border, at which point I really would have been in serious trouble.

Thankfully the journey was fine, but it was probably the scariest few hours of my life for a long time.

I knew that one little light appearing on my dashboard, would consign me to being stranded, with literally no way of getting out of it – even if a car /rv had stopped (which they would have done) there was nothing really they could do.

Needless to say, by the time I reached Dawson, I was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing people again (even coachloads of American tourists, which is all Dawson consists of ).

That’s not a  crack at Americans, says he quickly, there’s just something about busloads of tourists of pretty much any nationality that does my head in a bit – in fact the only time I ever feel insulted, when travelling, is if someone asks me if I’m a tourist !

Anyway, driving back down to Whitehorse today, passed two cars which had broken down and were stranded, both with nearest tow trucks about two hours away – for some reason it made me feel a little bit better, maybe that it wasn’t just me ……. and yes I did stop !



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